In or Out? What Should Be Included and Excluded From the Bible
While the New Testament of the Bible has small phrases or scattered verses that are not found in all of the ancient manuscripts, the Old Testament has a slightly different issue of inclusion or exclusion, which mostly relates to entire books.
Here’s the short version of what happened. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. It was translated to Greek a couple of centuries before Jesus. The Greek translation is used when the New Testament quotes from the Old.
For some of the books in the Greek Old Testament, either the original Hebrew version was lost or it was first written in Greek. It is these books that are in question. For most of history, Christians have accepted and embraced these writings, but during the modern era, some have opted to remove them from the Bible, in part because there are no original Hebrew manuscripts, viewing them as superfluous or even heretical. (Jews likewise dismiss these books.)
It has been only recently that I have discovered these books, feeling sad for what I have missed over the years.
The question becomes is it wrong to include them or wrong to exclude them? Again, as with the New Testament consideration, I opt to include them. I do this primarily because most Christians, for most of the past 2,000 years have deemed them as part of the Bible, so I feel safe to do so as well. As a result, my appreciation for God’s word and understanding of him is heightened in the process.
Perhaps these have likewise been missing in your Bible; future posts will provide an introduction to these fascinating books.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.